Here is a short summary of the course, lifted verbatim from last year's race report:
This course is a point-to-point starting at Baker's Bridge 13 miles north of Durango. If you've ever seen the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the scene when Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump off the cliffs into the river to escape the posse was filmed here. The course stays on the same county road through the Animas Valley all the way back to Durango. It is mostly rolling hills, although unfortunately more of the downhill rolling is near the beginning and the uphill rolling near the end.
At Baker's Bridge near the start line
Here are my times for all the previous years:
2010 - 2:01:57
2011 - 2:03:59
2012 - 1:57:30
2014 - 1:57:26
2016 - 2:09:10
2017 - 1:58:56
You can see that this year was right in the middle. Not my fastest time but not my slowest time either. At the beginning of the year I was hoping to be closer to 1:55 by now but I've struggled with consistency and motivation. I thought I could do sub-2 hours though. I had doubts along the way but I'm glad I managed to meet that goal. I do think this course is deceptively hard; I have consistently struggled to get comparable times to other races in the same year.
Here are my splits this year:
Mile 1 & 2 - 8:55 & 8:37. I started out feeling pretty good. The first mile is mostly a gradual downhill and I tried to take it easy versus going out too fast. In Mile 2 I settled in to what I hoped would be my pace for the majority of the race (around 8:45) but you'll see below that didn't really happen.
Mile 3 through 8 - 9:02, 9:09, 8:55, 9:06, 9:03. It turned out the pace I settled into for the majority of the race was closer to 9:00 than 8:45. I did push a little more in Mile 5 but overall I didn't have it in me to go any faster.
I think this is around Mile 5-6
Mile 9, 10, & 11 - 9:15, 9:16, 9:10. I slowed down a little more during these miles, and I admit that my mental game suffered at this point as well. I was feeling a) really tired and slower than I want to be, and b) discouraged to feel that way.
Mile 12 & 13 - 9:56, 9.24. Mile 12 was bad. It took a big effort to keep running, albeit slowly. I made it to the aid station at Mile 12.5 and took a longer than usual walk through and then managed to pick it back up a little for the final mile.
Final time - 1:58:56. Over it felt really hard. It was less enjoyable and I was slower overall (9:05 average versus 8:45 average) than at the Narrow Gauge 10-Mile two weeks earlier. I knew it hadn't been the best two weeks from a training standpoint but I was surprised how much my pace decreased - A good reminder to stay focused during the next ten weeks as I train for the Thirsty 13 Half Marathon on August 26th.